Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Toppered Off.

One of my sailing pals, IoW Len, recently managed to buy a Topper that somehow found her way to  south FLA.  The Topper, designed by Ian Proctor, but little known here in the US is almost Moth size at 11 feet, 1inch long. The Topper is viewed as a successful "pathway" dinghy class in the UK and is the next rung up the sailing ladder from Optimist dinghies.  Many of the UK youth "sailor of the year" award winners come from the Topper class. 

Early hulls featured fiberglass construction.  More recently, the boats have switched to injection molding and are built out of polypropylene.  Yes, the same stuff that fades on your car bumpers.  A little known fact about polypropylene is that faded items can be "refreshed" by carefully running a heat gun over them! (See video clip above).

The deck of the Topper as purchased

The same deck after heat gun treatment.

Scuzzy bottom (above) and transom (below) prior to general cleaning followed by heat gun treatment.

Same bottom and transom afterwards.

The Topper's hull shape is very reminiscent of Lewis Twitchell's 1953 Moth World Champion Flying Saucer.
Not much Len can do with that sail other than replace it with a fresh(er) one!  With the offending one inch taken off and a Moth rig in place of the Topper rig, we might just be looking at the next conversion from one class of dinghy to a Classic Moth!  The topper hull is however a bit on the "robust" end of the scale, clocking in at a hefty 94 lbs.  None the less a fun boat.                       


  1. Aaaah. The good old Topper. A very popular boat when I sailed in the UK in the 1980s - mainly for youth and smaller women. Often a stepping stone for kids between the Optimist and the Laser.

  2. The Moth used to fill that same roll, between prams and bigger dinghies, here. Then the Moth, due to its development nature, got a tad too extreme for most tastes. About the same time the Sunfish and Laser came along. Most kids find the Laser is too big a step up from Optis, hence the two smaller optional rigs were born. Moths, both International and Classic, remain on the scene in greatly reduced numbers mostly for acquired tastes.

  3. Thanks for the video and information regarding the heat gun! I didn't know about that trick at all. I have a polypropylene sea kayak that may well need that attention in the future - and I have a good heat gun.